Pontiac’s War

In 1763, the Ottawa leader Pontiac led an alliance of Indian nations in the Ohio Valley in a war of resistance against the British. In defeating this Indian alliance, the British turned to biological warfare in the form of smallpox.

Pontiac was probably born about 1720 along the Maumee River in what is now Ohio. His father was Ottawa and his mother was Chippewa (Ojibwa). By 1755 he was recognized by the Ottawa as one of their leaders (i.e. “chiefs”).

Background: Prelude to War

 In 1759, a party of Ottawa, Huron, and Potawatomi encountered an English Ranger group in present-day Michigan. The Ottawa leader Pontiac demanded to know why these strangers were trespassing on Indian land. The English told him that they were there only to remove the French. After they gave Pontiac wampum, he smoked with them. While Pontiac agreed to be a subordinate of the English Crown, he told the English that if the King should neglect him, he would shut down all routes to the interior.

The French and Indian War officially ended in 1760 with the defeat of France. As a result, English settlers began to pour across the Alleghenies into Indian territory. While the French had secured the loyalty of their Indian allies by providing them with ammunition and supplies, the English did not. Lord Jeffrey Amherst wrote:  “I do not see why the Crown should be put to that expense. Services must be rewarded; it has ever been a maxim with me. But as to purchasing the good behavior either of Indians or any others, [that] is what I do not understand. When men of whatsoever race behave ill, they must be punished but not bribed.”

Indians soon found that they were not welcome at the forts and that intermarriage was discouraged. The English simply assumed that they had no obligation to the original inhabitants of the country and acted accordingly. From an Indian viewpoint, this was not only a breach of protocol, but an open insult to the Indian nations and their leaders. Historians Robert Utley and Wilcomb Washburn, in their book Indian Wars, write:  “In sum, the English acted as though they had no obligation toward the inhabitants of the country—with predictable consequences.”

 In 1761, the English placed Jeffrey Amherst in charge of Indian relations in the Old Northwest Territory. Amherst felt that presents to the Indians encouraged laziness and that the Indians should support themselves by hunting so that they could obtain the trade goods which they desired. Historian Richard White, in his book The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815, describes Amherst as having “the moral vision of a shopkeeper and the arrogance of a victorious soldier.”

Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the commander-in-chief of the British forces, suggested to Henry Bouquet, the commander of Fort Pitt:  “Could it not be contrived to send the Small Pox among those dissatisfied tribes?”  In response Bouquet suggested using infected blankets to distribute the smallpox. He also suggested hunting the Indians with dogs.

In 1762, the Delaware (Lenni Lenape) prophet Neolin had a vision in which he undertook a journey to meet the Master of Life. He was told:  “The land on which you are, I have made for you, not for others. Wherefore do you suffer the whites to dwell upon your lands?”  “Drive them away; wage war against them; I love them not; they know me not; they are my enemies; they are your brothers’ enemies. Send them back to the land I have made for them.”  He received a prayer which is carved in symbolic language on a stick.

After returning from the vision, the prophet drew a map on a deerskin which was used in explaining his vision. This “great book” was sold to followers so that they might refresh their memories from time to time. Neolin’s vision provided the foundation for a pan-Indian movement. One of Neolin’s followers was the Ottawa chief Pontiac. According to ethnologist James Mooney, writing in 1896:  “The religious ferment produced by the exhortations of the Delaware prophet spread rapidly from tribe to tribe, until, under the guidance of the master mind of the celebrated chief, Pontiac, it took shape in a grand confederacy of all the northwestern tribes to oppose the further progress of the English.”

Historian Randolph Downes, in his book Council Fires on the Upper Ohio: A Narrative of Indian Affairs in the Upper Ohio Valley until 1795, writes of Neolin’s followers:  “They gave up the use of firearms and hunted exclusively with the bow and arrow. They lived entirely on dried meat and a bitter drink whose purgative quality was supposed to rid them of poisons absorbed by years of white contamination.”

While Neolin’s message was anti-European, under Pontiac it became anti-British. Many of Neolin’s followers felt that he was the reincarnation of Winabojo, the great teacher of the mythic past.

The War:

In 1763, Neolin, in present-day Michigan, urged the Three Fires Confederacy—Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi,—to expel the British. In response, Pontiac led an alliance of Shawnee, Delaware, and Ojibwa against the British. He told his people:  “It is important for us, my brothers, that we exterminate from our land this nation which only seeks to kills us.”

Pontiac and his allies soon seized nine of the eleven British forts in the Ohio Valley. While Pontiac is generally credited with leading the resistance movement, he was actually just one of many Indian leaders who had decided that war with the British was necessary to defend their territory and their way of life.

In response to the Pontiac war and in an attempt to stabilize the volatile situation between settlers and Indians, the British issued the Proclamation of 1763 which forbade European settlement west of the Appalachians. This was, in George Washington’s words, “a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians.” The Proclamation also removed jurisdiction over Indians from the colonies. Each Indian tribe was regarded as an independent nation and, as such, had to be dealt with by the Crown.

Pontiac’s rebellion was defeated in part because of a smallpox epidemic among the allied tribes. Once again Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Commander of the British forces suggests the use of smallpox as a weapon of war:  “You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”

One officer—Captain Simeon Ecuyer, a Swiss mercenary—reported that during peace negotiations with the Delaware, the Indians were given two blankets and a handkerchief which had been deliberately infected with smallpox spores at the post hospital. Other officers handed out smallpox-infected clothing. The English recorded this transaction in an invoice which stated:  “To sundries go to replace in kind those which were taken from the people in the hospital to convey the smallpox to the indians. Viz: 2 Blankets; 1 silk hankerchef and 1 linnen”

Soon smallpox was sweeping through the allied tribes, weakening their ability to wage war. R. G. Robertson in his book, Rotting Face: Smallpox and the American Indian, reports:  “By mid July, the Delawares were dying as though they had been raked by a grape cannonade.”

In 1764, Pontiac sent the British a wampum belt for peace. The British simply chopped up the belt. This would be like a European ambassador urinating on a proposed treaty. It was an act which shocked and angered the Indians. The act convinced Pontiac that he had nothing to gain by negotiating with the British.

In the Ohio Valley, the Shawnee, Seneca, and Lenni Lenape joined together to send war belts to the Miami and to Pontiac’s Ottawa asking them to fight the British. These three nations were joined by the Munsee and the Wyandot to form the Five Nations of Scioto.

At the end of the conflict, the British demanded that all European “captives” be returned. About 200 men, women, and children were turned over to the soldiers amid a torrent of tears. According to one military observer: “Every captive left the Indians with regret.” While there were no reports of Indian captives who did not want to return to their own people, it was common for European captives to refuse repatriation.

With regard to the defeat of Pontiac and his allies, Lee Miller, in his book From the Heart: Voices of the American Indian, notes that the  “British can congratulate themselves, for they will go down in infamy as the first ‘civilized’ nation to use germ warfare.”

By 1765, the war was over and the British asked Pontiac to carry the message of peace to the other tribes of the Ohio Valley and to serve as an intertribal chief in negotiating peace. As a result the Ottawa, Wyandot, Ojibwa, Miami, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, and Mascouten attended peace conferences.

The Indians felt that the French had simply been tenants on their land and had provided tribute—powder, rum, and other goods—as a type of rent. The British, on the other hand, felt that they themselves were governed by international law and that Indians were not members of the “family of nations”. Therefore, from the British viewpoint, the Indians should have no more rights than the animals they hunted.

In 1767, Pontiac formally signed a peace agreement with the British. Two years later he was killed by Black Dog, a Peoria Indian, following a drunken argument in the establishment of a British trader. Many felt that the British arranged for Pontiac’s assassination because Black Dog was known to be in the pay of the British.

The Battle of the Rosebud

The expansion of the American empire westward across the Mississippi River was motivated by greed and supported by God. During the nineteenth century American greed was manifested in an obsession for privately owned land and for gold, silver, and other precious metals. Americans believed that the role of government was to obtain land and mineral rights from the Indian nations that owned them and then give them to entrepreneurs for private exploitation. Many Americans believe that their God has made them a chosen people with dominion over both nature and all pagan nations.  

In 1876, American greed focused on the possibility of great wealth in the form of gold in South Dakota’s Black Hills, an area of great historical and spiritual importance to many Indian tribes, including the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and others. Turning a blind eye to U.S. law, international law, and U.S. treaty obligations, the government focused on getting the gold into the hands of non-Indians.

When the Sioux, the tribe declared by the United States to be the owners of the Black Hills, made it clear they did not wish to relinquish this land to the gold seekers, the United States simply declared war on them.  The Sioux must relinquish the Black Hills or starve. Congress passed an act which provided:

“hereafter there shall be no appropriation made for the subsistence of the Sioux, unless they first relinquish their rights to the hunting grounds outside the [1868 treaty] reservation, ceded the Black Hills to the United States, and reached some accommodation with the Government that would be calculated to enable them to become self-supporting.”

Any Indian who hunted in the unceded lands was not able to receive any food or supplies. If an Indian went out to hunt, even if starving, it meant losing all benefits for the rest of the year.

The United States then issued an ultimatum to the Sioux: all of the bands were to report to their agency by January 31 or be considered hostile. The ultimatum was intended to result in war for two basic reasons: (1) moving a band in January was difficult, if not impossible, and (2) most of the bands outside of the agency were unable to get word about the ultimatum.

The army then launched a three-pronged pacification campaign against the “hostiles” who had “refused” to come in. While the prong led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer is best known, there was also a campaign from the south led by General George Crook.

Traditional Indian warfare on the Northern Plains, while it involved battles and occasional deaths, was very dissimilar to European warfare. Warfare, according to Sioux writer Charles Eastman, was about courage and honor:

“It was held to develop the quality of manliness and its motive was chivalric or patriotic, but never the desire for territorial aggrandizement or the overthrow of a brother nation.”

The motivation for war was personal gain, not tribal patriotism. Through participation in war an individual gained prestige, honor, and even wealth (as counted in horses.) While it was not uncommon for warriors to kill their enemies in battle, this was not in itself considered to be a particularly noteworthy act of valor. The greatest feat of bravery a warrior (male or female) could perform was to touch the enemy. This was the act of counting coup.

At the headwaters of the Rosebud River in Montana, General Crook’s troops, with 176 Crow and 86 Shoshone allies, encountered an encampment of Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux under the leadership of Crazy Horse and engaged them in a day-long battle. Militarily the battle might be considered a draw as neither side won a decisive victory. Some military historians consider it a strategic defeat for Crook because he was unable to take the offensive and strike a decisive blow at the enemy camp. Chief Runs-the-Enemy said of the battle:

“The general sentiment was that we were victorious in that battle, for the soldiers did not come upon us, but retreated back into Wyoming.”

The Americans sustained casualties of 10 killed and 21 wounded. Crazy Horse later estimated that 39 Lakota were killed and 33 wounded.

From the traditional Indian perspective, there were two particularly important acts of valor in the battle and these two warriors were considered to have gained the greatest war honors.

The Shoshone and Crow shot the horse of Cheyenne Chief Comes in Sight out from under him. As they were closing in to finish him off, Buffalo Calf Robe (aka Calf Trail Woman), the sister of Comes in Sight, rode into the middle of the warriors and saved the life of her brother. Buffalo Calf Robe had ridden into battle that day next to her husband Black Coyote. From  the Cheyenne perspective, a woman warrior achieved the highest war honors that day.

One Crow two-spirit (berdache) put on men’s clothes and distinguished himself in battle against the Lakota. For this he was given the name Osh-Tisch which means “Finds Them and Kills Them.” Thus, from the Crow perspective a two-spirit-a person many people today might consider to be a transvestite-won the greatest war honors.

Battle of the Rosebud

Shown above is an artist’s interpretation of the Battle of the Rosebud.

Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians, Part III

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photo credit: Aaron Huey

The Battle of Lost River

In Part II, I had concluded with the Third Generation’s great crisis. The Modoc were destroyed as an independent people, and forced into being part of the Klamath Tribes on Klamath Indian land, to the north, in Oregon. Keintpoos with Cho’ocks and Scarfaced Charley and their families had left the reservation to go back to lost river. The Battle of Lost River, which broke out when the army and a Linkville militia attempted to force the return of the people, and their disarmament, ended with deaths and injuries on both sides. The Modoc all retreated near Tule Lake to Lava Beds. Hooker Jim’s band massacred settlers in the area around the lake, right at the heart of the Applegate Trail in Modoc country.

It was the last day of November, 1872.

FIGURES

  MODOC

  • Old Schonchin

  • Schonchin John, his brother

  • Keintpoos, or Captain Jack

  • Winema, known as Toby Riddle, interpreter

  • Cho’ocks, or Curley-Headed Doctor, spiritual leader

  • Hooker Jim

  • Scarfaced Charley

  • Boston Charley
  • Slolux
  • Brancho
  • Black Jim
  • Shacknasty Jim
  • Bogus Charley
  • Steamboat Frank

  • Ellen’s Man

  • Mary, Keintpoos’ sister

  • Lizzie, Keintpoos’ wife
  • Old Wife (of Keintpoos)

  • Rose, Keintpoos’ daughter.
  • Stimitchuas, or Jennie Clinton
  • Elvira Blow

    YANKEES

  • Ulysses S. Grant, US president

  • General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman

  • E.S. Canby, Brigadier General, peace commissioner

  • Alfred B. Meacham, Oregon Indian Agent, peace commissioner

  • Rev. Thomas Eleazer, peace commissioner
  • Elijah Steele, Indian Agent for Northern California
  • Lindsay Applegate, founder of the Applegate trail, Oregon Indian Subagent

  • Frank Riddle, peace commissioner, settler, husband to Winema/Toby

  • L.S. Dyar, peace commissioner

  • Eadweard Muybridge, photographer

  • End Game

    Lava Beds proved a brilliant strategic move by the Modoc. Lava Beds is a naturally complex series of trenches, caves, and volcanic features. One species of fern present in one cave is not found except for hundreds of miles to the west, in far more moderate lands. Perhaps this is an appropriate symbol of the Modoc’s refuge. Only a few dozen Modoc warriors were able to elude and frustrate the US Army, modernized though the Army was, and well equipped after the Civil War and Indian wars, in the dead of winter.

    Already they wanted Keintpoos for murder; in keeping with tradition, he had slain a healer who had failed to cure his sick child. His family, including his wife Lizzie and young daughter Rose, dwelled in their own cave.  The cave is exposed to the sky, but they all remained alive and hidden during the ordeal.

    Stimitchuas and other Modoc children were sent to retrieve the cartridges from fallen soldiers.

    Ojibwa has already delivered an overview of the Modoc War of 1872-1873, so I will try to emphasize other aspects to the story while explaining the basics. From Ojibwa:

    The spiritual leader of the group was Curley Headed Doctor [Cho’ocks]. In the lava beds, he had a rope of tule reeds woven, dyed red, and stretched around the campsite. He claimed that no American soldier could cross this rope. Since no soldiers cross this rope during the conflict, the Modoc assumed that it worked.

    …In one encounter, the 400 soldiers who were sent in to subdue the Modoc encountered a thick fog and soon retreated in panic and disarray. From the Modoc perspective, Curley Headed Doctor’s medicine had worked. He had brought a fog to confuse the enemy, and then he turned the soldiers’  bullets so that no Modoc was hurt.

    In another instance, a large patrol blundered into a carefully planned ambush. The army and the press labeled this a massacre. The soldiers had left on the maneuver as though they were going to a picnic rather than a battle. One of the Modoc leaders, Scarface Charley, had called down to some of the survivors: “We don’t want to kill you all in one day” and through this generosity several soldiers escaped.

    In one incident, the army soldiers found an old woman-described as being 80 or 90 years old-in the rocks near the stronghold. The lieutenant asked: “is there anyone here who will put that old hag out of the way?” A soldier then placed his carbine to her head and shot her.

    Embedded Journalism

    Toby Riddle, 4 Modoc women and 2 settlers

    Originating in the Crimean War twenty years prior, modern war photography and journalism had become something refined by the time of the Lava Beds War. Eadweard Muybridge (born Muggeridge in England) was one of the most influential photographers in the early statehood period of California. One generation later, his interest in capturing motion on film would prove deeply influential to the rising motion picture industry. A true archetype of the Old West, Muybridge was a constant self-reinventer. Also a fabulous deceiver and liar, he later murdered his wife’s lover and got away with the crime. During the beginning of the lava beds campaign, Muybridge captured some fascinating images to be sold to magazines and newspapers. For instance, take this photo of Toby Riddle between two California militia men, with 4 old Modoc women. However, some were fabricated: Muybridge had a non-Modoc man pose at some rocks as though he were shooting at Army soldiers. “On the start for a Reconnaissance of the Lava Beds “ reads the title for one photograph.

    Journalists followed the Army around and reported on events as people around the world followed their stories with relish. Interestingly, reporters even went into Lava Beds to document and interview Modoc people.

    Divides, Assassination

    Winema, called Toby Riddle, was one of the Modoc on the other side of the conflict. Similar to the contemporaneous Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, Toby Riddle was a US Army interpreter, and her husband Frank was a settler. During the war she mostly acted as a messenger. Although she had already borne a son she ran across the lavascape. Because she was a cousin to Keinpoos, Winema remained safe venturing into Lava Beds.

    Brigadier General E.S. Canby was in charge of the Lava Beds campaign. Meacham, described in Part II, again appears as a participant.

    The war was divisive for Modoc people. Most remained under the authority of Old Schonchin up north during the war, in turn outnumbered by the Klamath in the “democratic” government. Schonchin John had joined the Modoc encampment. Within the Lava Beds community there were strong divisions. Keintpoos wanted the war brought to a carefully-arranged end that would secure peace and the right to live in the area of Lost River with his family.  Others wanted to drive out the European-Americans.

    Months of peace negotiations unfolded. Canby grew annoyed by the interference from the Oregon governor, who was eager to hang multiple Modoc at the moment of surrender.

    In the meantime, Canby’s men seized Modoc horses while the negotiations played out. To the Modoc this was unacceptable. At a gathering, the Modoc warriors proposed assassinating Canby at the peace commission. In the northwest and basin, killing an enemy’s leader typically ended conflict. Furthermore, the Third Generation did not forget the Ben Wright Massacre and its false flag of peace in the dead of night. Keintpoos differed from those proposing the killing. Some of the group, possibly Hooker Jim among them, considered Keintpoos cowardly and unfit to be their leader. They tossed a female woven hat at the leader as shaming. By now, the warriors were mostly in favor of assassination. It would be a dangerous move.

    Winema learned of the assassination plot and warned Canby and others.  She went unheeded. Elijah Steele warned Canby by letter, too, but in response Canby wrote that his duty overrode concerns for safety.

    At their peace negotiation on Good Friday, 1873, Canby left many soldiers waiting just off from the peace tent, which was situated halfway between the Modoc and Army encampments. The mere presence of so many troops would deter any threats, was his thought. Also there were the Riddles, the Methodist minister Eleazer Thomas, and agent Alfred Meacham, L.S. Dyar, and two soldiers carrying concealed weapons. Keintpoos tried one last time to make progress. Schonchin John wanted a reservation for his band at Hot Creek.  However, the commissioners were single-minded and resolved to accept nothing less than total surrender.

    Keintpoos revealed his revolver and shot Canby dead. Slolux and Brancho pulled forth rifles and fired. Reverend Thomas also died from gunfire, and Meacham was wounded. Frank Riddle and Commissioner Dyar fled; Winema remained behind. Someone began scalping Meacham but Winema intervened and saved him by warning of the coming soldiers. Keintpoos, Black Jim, Boston Charley, and the rest escaped.

    Punishment

    Replacement General Jefferson C. Davis swelled the ranks to 1,000 troops. William Tecumseh Sherman, General of the Army, urged Davis to kill every Modoc man, woman and child in retaliation. Sherman instructed a colonel, “[y]ou will be fully justified in their utter extermination.”

    The first Modoc defeat happened at the Battle of Dry Lake on May 10. Despite the routing, only several Modoc died including the band leader Ellen’s Man. Recognizing that a precise time had come, Hooker Jim and his band left Lava Beds and changed allegiance.  Hooker Jim, Bogus Charley, Shacknasty Jim and Steamboat Frank and others helped end the war earlier by enabling US Army to track down Keintpoos. They and their families were allowed to return to Klamath reservation unguarded. In exchange for Captain Jack, these Modoc received amnesty for the Tule Lake killings.

    Keintpoos surrendered at the beginning of June, 1873.

    Military tribunal. Winema interpreted. Keintpoos, Schonchin John, Boston Charley, Black Jim, Slolux and Brancho were sentenced to death. In yet another ironic turn, they were convicted of war crimes, the only time American Indians would be. None had legal counsel.

    Ulysses S. Grant would later commute the sentences of Slolux and Brancho, giving them life imprisonment at Alcatraz Island, far to the southwest. The rest were hanged. Their heads were severed and shipped to Washington, D.C. Over a century later, Keintpoos’ relatives would finally retrieve custody of his head from the Smithsonian.

    Keintpoos’ wife Lizzie, his Old Wife, his daughter Rose and sister Mary were, with all the remaining Modoc from Lava Beds, boarded on cattle cars and shipped to Oklahoma on a non-stop journey. It is said that they became so starved that upon being released on a field in Oklahoma, the captives found a cow in the field, killed and ate it there on the ground. Rose died in Oklahoma, Keintpoos’ only child.

    Curley-Headed Doctor fell into disfavor. His power had failed the Modoc, so the people believed. The Modoc in Oregon converted to Methodism and those in Oklahoma were converted by the Quaker. As time passed on, Curley-Headed Doctor’s heart grew heavy.  One cold morning, he went outside to behold a gigantic flock of crows.  Their movement signified a great event, and he died soon after. He is still buried in Oklahoma. The Third Generation mostly passed by 1900.

    Note

    Winema lived the rest of her life on the Klamath Reservation with Frank and her son Jeff. Influenza claimed her in 1920.

    The last Modoc War survivor was Stimitchuas, remembered as Jennie Clinton. It’s unknown when she was born, but she was one those shipped to Oklahoma after the war, and returned to Oregon in 1918. In 1922, Jennie Clinton divorced her husband. She spent the rest of her life in a cabin on the Williamson River. She made beadwork but did not weave.

    Elvira Blow was an even older Modoc War survivor (she already had children before the war) who continued traditional basket-making into the 1930s.

    In the 20th century, Oklahoma Modoc were able to return to Oregon. About 50 remained behind at Quapaw. That is why there are two separate Modoc tribes within two different nations today: one in Oregon, one in Oklahoma.

    Jennie Clinton died in 1950, somewhere between the ages of 89 to over 100. She was the last, having survived forced migration, hunger, poverty, and bloodshed. The Fourth Generation was gone and the Fifth was mostly gone. Four years later, an act of congress would terminate the existence of the Klamath Tribes.

    Subsequent generations of Modoc history will be described in upcoming diaries.

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    Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians, Part II

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    American-Indian-Heritage-Month

    photo credit: Aaron Huey

    Ethnography

    Prior to contact, the Modoc people inhabited an area approximately 5,000 square miles in southern Oregon and the northeastern corner of California, where today Modoc County corresponds somewhat to traditional geography. To the southwest (moowat and Tgalam) Mt. Shasta rises up, covered in shining blue ice. Modoc people would make pilgrimages to the sacred mountain every year, but would not dwell there.  Sacred journeys were also made to Medicine Lake: a healing volcanic feature now used as a recreation park.  To the east (lobiitdal’) lies Goose Lake, and to the north (yaamat) in Klamath land is Mt. Mazama.  Today, Mazama is known as Crater Lake.

    Thousands of years ago, oral traditional states, the ancestors of the Modoc and the much more numerous Klamath people hid in caves from the catastrophic eruption of Mazama.  Beyond the terrifying images of raining ash and fire imaginable, this event affected world climate.

    In between these boundaries are Klamath Lake, Tule Lake, Lost, Williamson and Sprague Rivers, hundreds of marshes, many seasonally dry, pine forests, the lush Cascade mountains, high desert, and alkali flats most desolate in appearance.  The geography dictated the lifestyle: considered harsh by other Indian peoples, Modocs were nonetheless blessed with the bounty of wocas, a pond-lily seed, during the annual harvest season, salmon and suckerfish, as well as plentiful duck, pelican, goose and other waterfowl, many deer, moose, bear, elk, and delicious berries and roots like camas. Traditionally, they are a weaving and hunting people. Tule reed is the principle fabric source.

    This stark land was one of the last places in the 48 where European settlers, desirous for land, timber and gold, would venture. It would become the setting for the most expensive Indian war in US history.

    Introduction

    In Part 1, I gave an overview of Modoc life as it existed for 8,000 years from the eruption of Mt. Mazama to contact, and from there, disease, increasing tension between Modocs and European-Americans, and bloodshed, up until the Ben Wright Massacre and its crippling effect on Modoc people.

    At least 41 Modoc men, women, and children died in the Ben Wright Massacre, an assault at night on a Modoc village. Schonchin John, brother of Old Schonchin, was one of the only survivors.

    FIGURES

      MODOC

  • Old Schonchin

  • John Schonchin, his brother

  • Keintpoos, or Captain Jack

  • Toby Riddle, interpreter

  • Cho’ocks, or Curley-Headed Doctor

  • Link River Doctor

  • Hooker Jim

  • Scarfaced Charley

  • Mary or Queen Mary, Keintpoos’ sister

  • Lizzie, Keintpoos’ wife
  • Old Wife (of Keintpoos)

  • Rose, Keintpoos’ infant daughter.

  • Jeff Riddle, Toby’s son.

    YANKEES

  • Ulysses S. Grant, US president

  • Alfred B. Meacham, Oregon Superintendent for Indian Affairs

  • J.W. Perit Huntington, Oregon Superintendent for Indian Affairs
  • Elijah Steele, Indian Agent for Northern California
  • Lindsay Applegate, founder of the Applegate trail, Oregon Indian Subagent

  • O.C. Knapp, Subagent

  • Captain James Jackson, Army

  • Frank Riddle, settler, husband to Toby

  • The Second Generation’s Passing, The Rise of the Third

    After the Ben Wright Massacre, wars broke out between the US and multiple tribes across the northwest and great basin, and even more treaties were made. These treaties dealt with issues that are still politically tense today: fishing, farming, and timber, and with these, water rights. US government was to protect American Indian rights in exchange for their reservation captivity, peace and the forfeiture of much more land.

    For Modocs, the second generation since contact began to disappear, either plagued by tuberculosis, smallpox, influenza or other disease, or massacred by settlers.  Old Schonchin who had led the raid on settlers at Bloody Point and his brother John passed into elderhood.  The Modoc children alive during the Ben Wright Massacre of 1852 matured into adulthood. These included Keintpoos who would become known as Captain Jack, his wife Lizzie, and his sister Queen Mary.

    The Valentine’s Day Treaty

    Keintpoos met with Elijah Steele. Steele was Northern California’s Indian agent and a Republican Party boss, former prospector, judge and a founding settler of Siskiyou County, California.  Keintpoos and his band felt cheated by the process up north.

    In The Modocs and Their War, Keith A. Murray describes their horribly modest goals:

    [T]hey asked Judge Steele to draft a treaty for them, even thought they were no longer under his agency.  Steele knew that his jurisdiction no longer extended to the Modocs [relocated to Oregon] and Klamaths and, furthermore, that he had no authority to negotiate treaties with any Indians. Nevertheless, he felt that an informal treaty was better than none, especially when the Indians themselves asked for one. He thought he could turn over to the new superintendent a fair accompli.  By the terms of the treaty, the Modocs and others who signed it promised to stop stealing stock and to refrain from further child stealing. They agreed to quit selling their women to the miners, though marriage by purchase to other Indians was permitted.  They also agreed to cease quarreling among themselves.  They conceded the right of soldiers to punish them if they broke the agreement.  In return, they were given permission to trade, to acts as guides, and to operate ferries for a fee.  They also agreed to get permission from the soldiers at Fort Klamath whenever they wished to leave a reservation that would be set up for them.  Steele promised, bound only by his own word, to try to get a reservation for Jack’s band just west of Tule Lake along the Lost River.

    This reservation would have cost $20,000 and appeased Keintpoos, a much smaller sum than the over $1,000,000 Modoc War that would follow.

    The Klamath Tribes Treaty of 1864

    There was another treaty, one that became binding. This October treaty, signed in Oregon, required the Modoc and Yahooskin tribes (a band of the Snake Indians) to enter a reservation on Klamath land.  You can see a text of the treaty here, along with the names of the signers.  Modoc participants included Old Schonchin and Keintpoos, recognized by treaty as chiefs of the Modoc people, with Schonchin recognized as the superior.  Although the Modoc spoke a dialect of Klamath, intermarried, and traded with Klamath people, their relationship was not friendly. The Klamath saw the Modoc people as a country people, coarse in their speech and hardscrabble in their existence.

    ARTICLE 9. The several tribes of Indians, parties to this treaty, acknowledge their dependence upon the Government of the United States, and agree to be friendly with all citizens thereof, and to commit no depredations upon the person or property of said citizens, and to refrain from carrying on any war upon other Indian tribes; and they further agree that they will not communicate with or assist any persons or nation hostile to the United States, and, further, that they will submit to and obey all laws and regulations which the United States may prescribe for their government and conduct.

    ARTICLE 10. It is hereby provided that if any member of these tribes shall drink any spirituous liquor, or bring any such liquor upon the reservation, his or her proportion of the benefits of this treaty may be withheld for such time as the President of the United States may direct — from the 1864 treaty.

    In 1865, Keitpoos led his band (there had been 4 villages on the Lost River before the Ben Wright Massacre) back to his ancestral home on the Lost River after the government did not recognize him as chief. He had grown disgusted with the US favoritism towards Old Schonchin. With dozens of men, women and children with him, Keintpoos spent 4 years coming and going through the Klamath basin. Because the 1864 treaty was not ratified by the US senate and therefore not in effect, Applegate could not coerce Keintpoos to leave his homeland.

    In 1869, Keintpoos met with Oregon’s superintendent for Indian Affairs, Alfred B. Meacham. Keintpoos, who was by now known as Captain Jack, (allegedly a man in Yreka found Keintpoos similar in appearance to an old mariner) fled with all warriors at the sudden and unexpected appearance of US soldiers. Meacham ordered the women and children (who had been left behind) to be boarded on wagons bound for the reservation.  Meacham entreated Queen Mary, the sister of Captain Jack, to go persuade the man and his band into heading back north. Captain Jack relented. The Modoc were all together again on the reservation.

    Reservation Woes

    What is cultural genocide?

    Article 7 of a 1994 draft of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples uses the phrase “cultural genocide” but does not define what it means.[4] The complete article reads as follows:

    Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and cultural genocide, including prevention of and redress for:

    (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;

    (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;

    (c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;

    (d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures;

    (e) Any form of propaganda directed against them.

    To what degree do these apply to the Third Generation’s pre-war story?

    The misfortunate of the Modoc was to be outnumbered by the Klamath, who could then control the distribution of promised goods delivered by the US. Because the reservation was so small, the Indian peoples had no choice but to depend on the deliveries of food, clothing and other supplies. Nor were the deliveries generous in size. Hunger and poverty began with the third generation.

    Because she was married to the settler Frank Riddle, Toby Riddle was free to come and go as she pleased, with her young son Jeff.  Since her English was among the best spoken by Modoc she found employment as an interpreter.

    Keintpoos, with his wife Lizzie, daughter Rose, his “Old Wife,” Cho’ocks, Hooker Jim, Scarfaced Charley and other Modoc all sojourned south from the reservation to the Lost River over the next several years. On the Klamath tribes reservation deep misery overtook the people. Those who stayed behind began a lifestyle of cattle ranching (growing crops failed) and forestry as instructed by the agents.

    Although Meacham had won acclaim for removing Indians from Iowa to the Pacific, his personal beliefs were not totally unsympathetic to the treatment of First Americans.  In fact, he was distressed:

    • one agent had told Meacham that the best solution for the Indian problem was to “wash out the color”; many Indian agents were impregnating Indian women
    • at Fort Klamath, Modoc women could not pay for the goods they wanted, and so engaged in prostitution
    • officers took Indian women from their husbands
    • Indian husbands would not take back wives who had been seized by whites
    • many male settlers moved onto reservations and lived in a casual state with women

    Meacham issued an ultimatum to settlers on the Klamath reservation: marry, or leave.

    Despite the Modoc abandoning their ancestral home for the exponentially increasing Applegate Trail settlers, treaty promises remained unfulfilled. One of the stipulations was the establishment of a saw mill, because the newly created Klamath tribes was to support itself through the harvesting of timber. No saw mill, as promised by the Applegates, had been built.

    As a good Methodist, Meacham stood fiercely opposed to the Modoc religion and its spiritual leaders. The new tribal elections system deliberately bolstered trustworthy, if not puppet, rulers, and reduced the political power of the traditional spiritual leaders. Methodist missionaries have been the primary religious establishment among the Klamath Tribes ever since.

    Many Modoc, including Keintpoos and Cho’ocks, felt great unease at these and more developments.  Across the west, Indians resisted the missionary influence of the Meachams and began to adopt a racial view of themselves.  This was facilitated especially by the Ghost Dance, a radical, pan-Indian spiritual movement that arose during the first reservation era. The goal of the Ghost Dance was to raise the dead, who had been taken by murder, mayhem and disease, and together expel the European-American settlers. Understanding its unifying potential, the US suppressed the Ghost Dance movement with force.  For the Modoc, Curley-Headed Doctor, or Cho’ocks, was now the main spiritual leader. He acquired knowledge of the Ghost Dance from the Paiute. Meanwhile, Link River Doctor faced arrest, trial and imprisonment in 1870 at the hands of Subagent Knapp, with Meacham’s encouragement, for the practice of Modoc religion.

    Modoc people raided settlers for food. Complaints deluged Meacham’s office.

    Meacham was both retained as an agent in the region and would prove a critical actor in later events. However, J.W. Perit Huntington replaced Meacham as Oregon Superintendent. Ulysses S. Grant was president, then, and this reshuffling was in keeping with politics at the time, including the “spoils system.”

    With a growing crisis in the region, Meacham requested a separated reservation for Keintpoos’ band down at the Yainax station in the southern part of the Klamath Tribes reservation.  Like the previous attempts by various actors, this too was ignored.

    It was 1872, and in one of a multitude of ironies, Captain Jack was to be arrested for the murder of a ‘shaman.’ Traditionally, the tribe would take the life of a healer who failed to cure the sick. Not only did Keintpoos exercise a tribal duty, (not the first time he would end up vilified for fulfilling tribal obligations) he had eliminated a person whom the government itself criminalized. Notwithstanding, a warrant was issued for Captain Jack’s arrest.

    The Battle of Lost River

    Cpt. James Jackson, on orders from Ft. Klamath, marched with 40 troops to Captain Jack’s camp to force a return to the reservation. They were joined by a citizen’s militia from Linkville, (now Klamath Falls) the main European-American settlement in the basin.  At the camp on November 29th, the Modoc were ordered to disarm. After doing so a fight broke out and firing commenced.

    Quickly, the Modoc reclaimed their weapons and fled to California. They took shelter at Lava Beds, a complex series of lava tubes near Tule Lake.

    Between November 29th and 30th, Hooker Jim led a band of Modoc on a series of raids that slaughtered 18 settlers around the lake.

    This was the beginning of the 1872-1873 Modoc War.

    Centuries of Genocide is a generational series on the destruction of First Americans, or American Indian peoples. I began this series with Part I of the Modoc story. Subsequent generations will be described in the upcoming entries.

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    Pontiac’s War

    In 1763, the Ottawa leader Pontiac led an alliance of Indian nations in the Ohio Valley in a war of resistance against the British. In defeating this Indian alliance, the British turned to biological warfare in the form of smallpox.  

    Background: Prelude to War

    In 1759, a party of Ottawa, Huron, and Potawatomi encountered an English Ranger group in present-day Michigan. The Ottawa leader Pontiac demanded to know why these strangers were trespassing on Indian land. The English told him that they were there only to remove the French. After they gave Pontiac wampum, he smoked with them. While Pontiac agreed to be a subordinate of the English Crown, he told the English that if the King should neglect him, he would shut down all routes to the interior.

    The French and Indian War officially ended in 1760 with the defeat of France. As a result, English settlers began to pour across the Alleghenies into Indian territory. While the French had secured the loyalty of their Indian allies by providing them with ammunition and supplies, the English did not. Lord Jeffrey Amherst wrote:

    “I do not see why the Crown should be put to that expense. Services must be rewarded; it has ever been a maxim with me. But as to purchasing the good behavior either of Indians or any others, [that] is what I do not understand. When men of whatsoever race behave ill, they must be punished but not bribed.”

    Indians soon found that they were not welcome at the forts and that intermarriage was discouraged. The English simply assumed that they had no obligation to the original inhabitants of the country and acted accordingly. From an Indian viewpoint, this was not only a breach of protocol, but an open insult to the Indian nations and their leaders.

    In 1762, the Delaware (Lenni Lenape) prophet Neolin had a vision in which he undertook a journey to meet the Master of Life. He was told:

    “The land on which you are, I have made for you, not for others. Wherefore do you suffer the whites to dwell upon your lands?”

    “Drive them away; wage war against them; I love them not; they know me not; they are my enemies; they are your brothers’ enemies. Send them back to the land I have made for them.”

    He received a prayer which is carved in symbolic language on a stick.

    After returning from the vision, the prophet drew a map on a deerskin which was used in explaining his vision. This “great book” was sold to followers so that they might refresh their memories from time to time. Neolin’s vision provided the foundation for a pan-Indian movement. One of Neolin’s followers was the Ottawa chief Pontiac. According to ethnologist James Mooney, writing in 1896:

    “The religious ferment produced by the exhortations of the Delaware prophet spread rapidly from tribe to tribe, until, under the guidance of the master mind of the celebrated chief, Pontiac, it took shape in a grand confederacy of all the northwestern tribes to oppose the further progress of the English.”

    While Neolin’s message was anti-European, under Pontiac it became anti-British. Many of Neolin’s followers felt that he was the reincarnation of Winabojo, the great teacher of the mythic past.

    The War:

    In 1763, Neolin, in present-day Michigan, urged the Three Fires Confederacy-Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi,-to expel the British. In response, Pontiac led an alliance of Shawnee, Delaware, and Ojibwa against the British. He told his people:

    “It is important for us, my brothers, that we exterminate from our land this nation which only seeks to kills us.”

    Pontiac and his allies soon seized nine of the eleven British forts in the Ohio Valley. While Pontiac is generally credited with leading the resistance movement, he was actually just one of many Indian leaders who had decided that war with the British was necessary to defend their territory and their way of life.

    In response to the Pontiac war and in an attempt to stabilize the volatile situation between settlers and Indians, the British issued the Proclamation of 1763 which forbade European settlement west of the Appalachians. This was, in George Washington’s words, “a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians.” The Proclamation also removed jurisdiction over Indians from the colonies. Each Indian tribe was regarded as an independent nation and, as such, had to be dealt with by the Crown.

    Pontiac’s rebellion was defeated in part because of a smallpox epidemic among the allied tribes. Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Commander of the British forces:

    “You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”

    One officer-Captain Simeon Ecuyer, a Swiss mercenary-reported that during peace negotiations with the Delaware, the Indians were given two blankets and a handkerchief which had been deliberately infected with smallpox spores at the post hospital. Other officers handed out smallpox-infected clothing. Soon smallpox was sweeping through the allied tribes, weakening their ability to wage war.

    In 1764, Pontiac sent the British a wampum belt for peace. The British simply chopped up the belt. This would be like a European ambassador urinating on a proposed treaty. It was an act which shocked and angered the Indians. The act convinced Pontiac that he had nothing to gain by negotiating with the British.

    At the end of the conflict, the British demanded that all European “captives” be returned. About 200 men, women, and children were turned over to the soldiers amid a torrent of tears. According to one military observer: “Every captive left the Indians with regret.” While there were no reports of Indian captives who did not want to return to their own people, it was common for European captives to refuse repatriation.

    By 1765, the war was over and the British asked Pontiac to carry the message of peace to the other tribes of the Ohio Valley and to serve as an intertribal chief in negotiating peace. As a result the Ottawa, Wyandot, Ojibwa, Miami, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, and Mascouten attended peace conferences.

    The Indians felt that the French had simply been tenants on their land and had provided tribute-powder, rum, and other goods-as a type of rent. The British, on the other hand, felt that they themselves were governed by international law and that Indians were not members of the “family of nations”. Therefore, from the British viewpoint, the Indians should have no more rights than the animals they hunted.

    In 1767, Pontiac formally signed a peace agreement with the British. Two years later he was killed by a Peoria following a drunken argument in the establishment of a British trader. Many felt that the British arranged for Pontiac’s assassination.

    The Cayuse Indian War

    ( – promoted by navajo)

    In 1847, the traditional cultural values and practices of American Indians in the Plateau Area of Washington and Oregon collided violently with the cultural imperialism of Protestant missionaries. As a result, both Indian and non-Indian people were executed according to Indian and non-Indian cultural values. This clash of cultures is commonly called the Cayuse Indian War.  

    Background: The Missions

    In 1836 Marcus Whitman established a Presbyterian mission among the Cayuse in Oregon. The purpose of the mission, like other Protestant missions of this era, was to convert the savage Cayuse to Christianity and to civilize them by requiring them to live in the American fashion.

    Like many other missionaries of this era, the Whitmans were intolerant of Indian culture and believed it to be basically evil and under the influence of Satan. They fanatically demanded total conversion to Presbyterian ways-that is, to be a Presbyterian meant wearing American style clothing, living in a rectangular house, eating food in European style and prepared to European taste. The Indians viewed the Whitmans as arrogant. They felt that the paternalism of Marcus Whitman was brusque and judgmental. They saw Narcissa Whitman  as being cold, self-centered, and aloof. The Whitmans divided Indians into two groups: the devout (meaning Christian according to their definition of Christian) and the heathen. They often failed to understand that there were cultural differences between the different tribes.

    The Presbyterian missionaries sought to introduce European medical practices, partially to discredit the Indian medicine people and partially to ingratiate themselves with the Indian people.

    The Attack:

    In Cayuse culture, as in many other Indian cultures, there was a tradition that if a medicine man’s patient should die while under the care of the medicine man, the patient’s relatives had a right to seek revenge by killing the medicine man. The Whitmans, like other missionaries, had proclaimed themselves as medicine people when they introduced their medical practices as a way of undermining the tribal healers.

    Cayuse children enrolled at Whitmans’ mission school came down with the measles in 1847 and started an epidemic. Within two months about half of the Cayuse died from measles or from the accompanying dysentery. The Cayuse blamed the missionaries. Chief Tilokaikt and a warrior named Tomahas killed missionary Marcus Whitman and 11 other Americans.

    From a Cayuse perspective, there was no question of their right to dispose of Dr. Whitman. First, patients had died under his care. More importantly, they felt that he had deliberately withheld the cure from his Cayuse patients. They reasoned that Whitman was an American healer and that measles was an American disease and therefore he would know the cure for the disease. It was felt, therefore, that he was killing Indians through an application of evil spells. As was the accepted cultural practice of the Plateau area tribes, it was necessary to protect the people from this evil by killing the practitioner.

    A total of 14 people were killed in the attack and 53 others, primarily women and children, were taken captive.

    The Aftermath:

    In response to the Whitman massacre, a volunteer army was organized under the leadership of Reverend Cornelius Gilliam, a prominent fire-and-brimstone preacher. Gilliam was a bigoted Baptist minister who had helped chase the Mormons from Missouri. He was an avowed Indian hater who believed that all Indians should be exterminated. He assumed the rank of Colonel in the newly formed militia.

    Among the American settlers in the area, there were some strong feelings that the Catholic missionaries had encouraged the Cayuse attack against the Protestant missionaries. In response to the intense anti-Catholic feelings among the Americans, there were many in the volunteer army who felt that they should first attack the Catholic missions. Gilliam also believed that Catholics had conspired to incite the Cayuses.

    Many Americans also thought that the Hudson’s Bay Company had had a hand in the massacre, if not directly then by not warning the Whitmans of the Indians’ hostility. While this was a charge without foundation, it was a reflection of the anti-British sentiment among the American settlers.

    The peace commission appointed by the territorial governor met with Reverend Gilliam at The Dalles. When they asked for a small escort to accompany them to the Walla Walla River in order to negotiate a peace, Gilliam refused the request.  Gilliam was not interested in peace. He told the commission that he had come to fight the Indians, not to talk.

    Cayuse chiefs gathered at the home of Catholic Bishop A.M.A. Blanchet and drew up a petition which the Bishop was to submit to the Governor. The petition began by stating the chiefs’ conviction that the Whitmans intended to exterminate the Cayuse so that the whole of their lands might be taken over by American settlers.  The chiefs proposed that the Americans forgive the Cayuse for the massacre just as the Cayuse had forgiven the Americans for murdering some of the Cayuse. The chiefs proposed that they would deliver the murderers into the hands of a peace commission.

    The following year, the American militia under the leadership of Reverend Cornelius Gilliam left the Dalles, seeking to kill Indians in revenge for the massacre of the Protestant missionaries. The army was led by the peace delegation carrying white flags.

    At Sand Hollow the militia encountered the Cayuse under the leadership of Five Crows. Cayuse medicine man Grey Eagle boasted that he could swallow the bullets of the Boston fur traders. Five Crows also claimed to be invulnerable. The two men rode up to the American troops. Grey Eagle was shot and killed. Five Crows was hit in the arm. After three hours of battle, the Cayuse withdrew. Following this battle, the Americans were more determined than ever to punish the Indians.

    At the Whitman mission site, the Americans were notified that a large group of Nez Perce and Cayuse were coming to talk peace. Included in the peace council were Walla Walla chief Yellow Serpent, 11 Nez Perce chiefs, and Cayuse chief Camaspelo. All of the assembled chiefs pledged peace with the Americans.

    The American militia continued its war against the Cayuse. Gilliam forced the men to march all night in order to catch up with the illusive Indians. What they found, however, was a Palouse and Walla Walla village of tipis. An elder approached the Americans and told them that the camp belonged to Peopeo Moxmox and that the village was friendly. Gilliam then ordered his men to gather up the stock that was grazing nearby. The stock belonged to the Palouse and they protested this action. When the militia ignored them, they defended their interest and attacked. The American militia soon found itself under attack by 400 seasoned warriors. The Walla Walla and Palouse often fought against the Blackfoot while buffalo hunting on the Great Plains and so their warriors were experienced fighters. The Americans released the stock, but the Palouse warriors continued striking them as they retreated toward the Touchet River.

    As they retreated, Colonel Gilliam accidentally killed himself when he removed his gun from the back of a wagon. This effectively ended  the Cayuse Indian war.

    The American militia failed to locate the Cayuse warriors accused of killing the Whitmans. However, the Cayuse themselves, with encouragement from the Nez Perce, turned five men over to the Americans: Tilokaikt, Tomahas, Kiamasumpkin, Isiachalakis, and Klokamas.

    With regard to the Americans from the Whitman’s mission held captive by the Cayuse, Hudson’s Bay Trader Pete Skene Ogden met with the Cayuse to negotiate their release. Historian Terence O’Donnell (1987: 58) reports: He called their chiefs a bunch of hermaphrodites for not having controlled their young men. He then demanded the release of the captives and pledged a ransom in return. The Cayuse agreed and the captives were turned over to him.

    In 1850, five Cayuse warriors-Tiloukailt, Tomahas, Ishishkaiskais, Clokamas, and Kiamasumpkin- were tried for the murder of the American missionaries. The Cayuse had hoped to tell their side of the story and to present the Americans with some gifts to cover the graves of the dead missionaries. The concept of “covering the dead” was a part of the Plateau Indian culture, and in American culture justice was focused on punishment. Thus, the Cayuse  were placed on trial where they protested their innocence. They were convicted and sentenced to be hung. They asked to be shot rather than hung as they viewed hanging as a form of death unfit for humans. Their request was not granted.

    Before the men were hung, a Jesuit priest baptized them. When asked why, if he were innocent, did he place himself in the hands of the Americans, Tiloukailt replied:

    “Did not you missionaries tell us that Christ died to save his people? So die we, to save our people.”

    The bodies of the Cayuse Five were not returned to their people. They were hung not only for revenge under the guise of justice, but for political reasons. By publicly hanging the men and displaying the bodies, the Americans sent a clear message to other Indians who might be considering war against the Americans. The Cayuse view the Cayuse Five as insurgents acting on behalf of their sovereign people.

    The Sheepeater Indian War

    ( – promoted by navajo)

    It is not uncommon for Indian tribes to be named for the food they consume. One group of Shoshone living in the mountains between Idaho and Montana were called Sheepeaters because mountain sheep were the mainstay of their food supply. In 1879, the deaths of five Chinese miners was attributed to the Sheepeaters, even though the murders appeared to have been committed by a party of Americans disguised as Indians. This marked the beginning of the Sheepeater War.  

    General O. O. Howard was prompted to investigate these deaths. He had already been wanting to subdue what was said to be the last holdout of hostiles from the Bannock War along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. This gave him the excuse he needed.

    In the first battle of the war, the army destroyed an Indian camp which had been abandoned about two hours earlier. Then, ignoring the findings of its scouts, the army followed a trail down the creek into a steep canyon. About two dozen Sheepeater warriors were waiting and the army unit was ambushed. Two soldiers were wounded. In a disorganized and hasty way, the soldiers retreated. The victorious Indians made no immediate effort to press their advantage by pursuing the fleeing troops.

    The following morning, the Indians set fire to the base of the mountain and the winds carried the flames uphill toward the army camp. With shifting winds and carefully set backfires, the army escaped the flames and when darkness set in they were able to sneak past the Indians. The army lost 21 pack animals and all of their supplies to the Sheepeaters.

    In the second battle of the war, Umatilla scouts led the army to a Sheepeater camp which had been hastily abandoned. There was an exchange of gunfire, but no casualties. The Sheepeaters lost a large cache of supplies, including goods which they had captured in their earlier battle with the army.

    Several army companies spent four months battling a band of 51 people, which included only 15 warriors who had only 8 firearms: 4 carbines, 2 muzzle-loading rifles, 1 breech-loading rifle, and 1 double-barreled shotgun. In the end, the band surrendered after being pursued by the Army’s Umatilla and Cayuse scouts.

    20th Century Indian Wars

    ( – promoted by navajo)

    By the end of the nineteenth century, it was commonly believed by scholars, politicians, and the general public that Indians were destined to disappear. In the twentieth century, many scholars continue to write as those Indians did, in fact, disappear by the twentieth century. Since there weren’t supposed to be any Indians in the twentieth century, there weren’t supposed to be any Indian wars in the twentieth century. Yet there are many incidents involving military action against Indians as well as the actions of volunteer groups and law enforcement agencies against Indians that can be considered to be Indian “war” similar to those of the nineteenth century.  

    In 1905, army troops were sent in to quell a disturbance among the Navajo. To show that resistance to the “big stick” policies of the Indian Office (later called the Bureau of Indian Affairs) were futile, seven of the Navajo men were sent to Alcatraz prison. There was no trial.

    In 1906, there was a dispute among the Hopi over sending children to boarding schools. In one of the Hopi villages, people labeled as “hostiles” by the government refused to send their children to school. The government sent in police to arrest the leaders. The so-called hostiles then moved from Shongopavi and established a new village at Hotevilla. The government then sent in troops to round up all of the Hopi at Hotevilla and marched them to a temporary camp some six miles away. The men were then marched another 40 miles to Keams Canyon where they were chained together and forced to work on a chain gang for the next 18 months. Two of the main leaders of the “hostiles” were permanently banished from the reservation and 17 other leaders were imprisoned at hard labor at Fort Hauchuca, Arizona. According to Indian Commissioner Francis Leupp: the Hopis must learn “that hereafter they will conduct themselves reasonably like white men or be treated as white people treat those of their own number who are forever quarreling and fighting among themselves.”

    In 1911, army troops were called in once again to invade the Hopi reservation. The troops were used to force the children of the village of Hotevilla to attend school. Sixty-nine children were placed under military guard and taken to the boarding school at Keams Canyon. The troops then invaded the village of Shongopovi where they captured three more children for the boarding school.

    In 1906, 300 Ute under the leadership of Red Cap left the White River Reservation in Colorado headed for South Dakota. The Ute were upset about the allotment of their reservation and increase of non-Indian settlers. In South Dakota, they hoped to form an alliance with the Lakota and with the Crow to stop the allotment program. The army stopped the group and detained them as prisoners of war at Fort Meade, South Dakota. The army was unconcerned that courts had ruled that Indians could not be detained or imprisoned without a trial. Nor was the army concerned that no actual state of war existed at the time. The army viewed the Ute as potential enemy combatants and felt that it had the right to hold them in prison indefinitely.

    While the army often ignored due process of law when dealing with Indians, there are cases in which the army did attempt to see due process carried out. In 1915, a Mexican sheepherder was murdered in Colorado and popular opinion assumed that he had been killed by an Indian. The court of public opinion blamed Tsenegar, a Ute Indian, for the death. Subsequently a posse of 26 cowboys crossed into Utah and surrounded the Ute camp of Old Polk. Their supposed goal was to capture Tsenegar who was rumored to be in Old Polk’s group. The cowboys, who were drunk at the time, began firing into the camp with no warning. The Indians had no idea who these men were nor why they were shooting at them. The Indian response was to fire back to distract the cowboys and then to slip away. When the smoked cleared, there were dead on both sides and the Ute had vanished.

    In response to this incident, non-Indians began to raise a cry about an “Indian uprising” and to ask for military help. In the meantime, the marshal sent out word that all Indians in the area were to come into Blanding, Utah and surrender. One group of Ute teenagers who had nothing to do with the shootout at Old Polk’s camp walked into Blanding and gave themselves up. Even though they were innocent of any crime except for being Indian, they were handcuffed and imprisoned under armed guard at the Zion Co-op Store.

    Because of the anti-Indian sentiment at this time, the military forcibly removed 160 Ute from their Utah homelands and resettled them on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in Colorado.

    To capture Tsenegar and Old Polk, the military recruited Bi-joshii, a Navajo medicineman. Bi-joshii made contact with Old Polk and Tsenegar. Through the efforts of trader John Wetherhill and his Navajo wife Slim Woman, the Ute “outlaws” peacefully surrendered to General Hugh Scott. According to General Scott:

    “My problem was to prevent those four Indians from being legally murdered. White men had been killed and the trial would be in the hands of white men, possibly prejudiced against the Indian, whose land incidentally was wanted.”

    General Scott later wrote:

    “I believed that the white man had been the aggressor, but this could be proved only by Indian witnesses whose word would not be taken against that of a white man.”

    Tsenegar was tried for murder in Denver, Colorado. Concerned about preserving the image of fairness in this case, the judge appointed leading members of the bar to present Tsenegar’s defense. In court Tsenegar dressed in a gray flannel suit with a red necktie and a red flower in his buttonhole. He wore moccasins and a white felt cowboy hat. One breast was covered with dime store medals and on the other he wore a miniature United States flag.

    The first witness for the government was John Miller, a Ute. As the witness began to be sworn, the defense attorney objected, claiming that the oath was not binding on a non-Christian. The judge overruled the objection. After seven hours of deliberation the jury found Tsenegar not guilty.

    In 1913 there was a rebellion among the Navajo which came to be known as the Beautiful Mountain Uprising. The uprising started when the Indian agent learned that Hatot’cli-yazzie, the son of Ba-Joshii, had three wives in spite of the agent’s edict against plural marriages. Fed by information from the Indian agent, local newspapers painted a picture of the entire Navajo nation in revolt with a horrible massacre impending. To avert this massacre and save the non-Indians, according to the newspaper accounts, military action was needed. In response, the army sent in the cavalry with 261 men and officers to put down the Navajo “hostiles” who were under the leadership of Ba-Joshii. The Navajo force numbered only twelve men.

    There are a number of accounts of actions against Indians by militia groups and volunteers (sometimes in the guise of posses). One of these was the Smoked Meat Rebellion of 1909. This incident started when non-Indians complained about the theft of ham from their smokehouses. Assuming that Indians were guilty, authorities from the state of Oklahoma invaded the traditional Creek encampment at Hickory Ground. While the sheriff and his posse take possession of the campgrounds, there is an exchange of gunfire in which several Creek Freedmen (former slaves) were killed.

    The sheriff then secured an arrest warrant for Chitto Harjo on the charge of conspiracy. In the raid on Harjo’s house, gunfire broke out, two deputies were killed, and Harjo escaped. The state of Oklahoma raised a militia of more than 1,000 to put down the Smoked Meat Rebellion. The militia attacked the camp at Hickory Ground, killing many Creek Freedmen, but the traditional Creeks had already broken camp and dispersed.

    The Smoked Meat Rebellion was not the first time military action had been used against Chitto Harjo’s traditional Creek. In 1901, the army had been called in to put down the Snake Uprising against the allotment act. The cavalry invaded Hickory Ground and arrested Chitto Harjo and about 100 traditional Creek. After several weeks in jail, they were given long prison sentences which were suspended if they promised to be good. In this instance, the cavalry was not called by the Indian agent, but by Creek chief Pleasant Porter.

    Another incident at the same time in California was the hunt for Willie Boy which inspired a number of novels and a major movie. It began when Willie Boy, a Chemehuevi, killed William Mike, another Chemehuevi. Willie Boy then “kidnapped” Mike’s daughter Carlotta. Willie Boy and Carlotta then set off across the desert near Banning on foot.

    A posse was then organized to track down the couple. Assisting the posse were two Indian trackers: John Hyde (Yaqui) and Segundo Chino (Chemehuevi). Both of the trackers were friends of the Mike family. The Chemehuevi had a special cult of the runners which had stemmed from the need for chiefs to send messages to others quickly. These runners could cross the desert quickly with little or no water. In the pursuit of Willie Boy the trackers noted that his stride covered 5 to 7 feet. It would appear that Willie Boy was a runner in the old Chemehuevi tradition.

    According to the official story, Willie Boy killed Carlotta because she was slowing him down and later killed himself because the posse had worn him down and he was out of ammunition. There was some doubt as to how Carlotta really died-in retrospect the evidence seems to suggest that she was killed by gunfire from the posse. The posse burned Willie Boy’s body rather than bringing it back with them. There are some who feel that Willie Boy did not kill himself because the posse wore him out, but rather he killed himself because he wanted to rejoin Carlotta.

    Willie Boy and Carlotta had run off together before and Willie Boy had asked William Mike for permission to marry Carlotta. Permission had been denied because Willie Boy and Carlotta were cousins and this would be incest according to Chemehuevi tradition. In addition, William Mike, a well-known medicine man, disliked Willie Boy.  

    The press seized upon the story and sensationalized it. The newspaper accounts identified Willie Boy as Paiute. According to the popular newspaper accounts of the incident Willie Boy was drunk and this was the cause of the killing. Willie Boy, however, followed the teachings of the Paiute prophet Wovoka which prohibited the use of alcohol. Willie Boy had a reputation on the reservation for not drinking. The idea of “finding courage in a bottle” makes sense to non-Indians, but does not reflect the cultural reality of the Paiute and Chemehuevi followers of Wovoka.

    Not all of the military actions against Indians during the twentieth century took place in the early part of the century. In 1973 there was a standoff between Indians and the military at Wounded Knee, the site of a massacre 82 years earlier. The American Indian Movement (AIM) led a group of traditionals and urban national¬ists in an occupation of the Wounded Knee community. AIM took this action at the request of the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) led by Pedro Bissonette.

    Under the code name Garden Plot, the military played a central role in determining the government strategy in response to the takeover. Military personnel were required to wear civilian clothes and the government vehemently denied the military presence. It was difficult to explain, however, the presence of military tanks, armored personnel carriers, and fighter jets.

    While the military publicly denied any role in the siege of Wounded Knee, Army Vice Chief of Staff Alexander Haig ordered two colonels, who are to dress as civilians, to oversee operations there. Army trucks filled with materiel were driven to points near Wounded Knee where the materiel was then transferred to civilian trucks that were then driven to the area by soldiers in civilian dress. The army provided armored personnel carriers, ammunition, rifles, and grenade launchers. The army also sent in a chemical warfare team to train the U.S. Marshals and the FBI. The Air Force provided a jet and three helicopters.

    For 71 days Wounded Knee was surrounded by a force of 200 law enforcement (FBI and federal marshals) and military personnel who had armored personnel carrier, airplanes, helicopters, and other military equipment. The night sky at Wounded Knee was filled with the trails of tracer bullets. The military flares were endless: lighting up the sky every night as though it were day. This made it difficult for the occupiers to sleep. In the seventy-one days of Wounded Knee, the government used more flares than it had during the entire war in Vietnam. By the end of the siege the government had fired more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition.

    The government attempted to keep the news media away from Wounded Knee. With reports from the FBI informers who were embedded in AIM, the government knew that most of the AIM leaders were together in this remote settlement. The government saw this as an opportunity to wipe out the rebels’ movement. AIM, however, contacted the media through runners who slipped out at night and then returned as guides bringing in reporters and television cameras around the roadblocks.

    By the end of the occupation, two of the occupiers had been killed by government fire and one govern-ment agent was paralyzed by a bullet.

    Following the incident at Wounded Knee, the actions by AIM and the government have been interpreted in several different ways. Some felt that Wounded Knee was an outburst reflecting the long-standing resentments which Indian people felt after a century of subordination. The government, particularly the FBI and the military, on the other hand, saw it as being tied somehow to Communist Cuba, the Black Panthers, the Irish Republican Army, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. AIM leaders saw it as a resurgence of American Indians devoted to their ancestral culture.

    In spite of the story told by most history books in which the Indian wars end with the nineteenth century, it is evident that armed conflict between Indians and agents of the American government has continued. In fact, these conflicts have continued into the twenty-first century.